By Louis Addeo-Weiss
For the National Football League, viewer, and front office opinion is continually shaped or solidified on a week-to-week basis.
In week five, we saw the Kansas City Chiefs, an AFC organization many feel pose the biggest threat to the defending champion New England Patriots, lost a tug-of-war match against the Indianapolis Colts.
Looking to rebound week 6, the narrative surrounding the Chiefs has been their defense, which, according to Pro-Football-Reference, ranks 27th of the 32 teams, went up against a strong offensive unit in the Houston Texans, who rank 6th in total offense. The biggest key to overcoming the loss to Indianapolis was establishing the pass-rush, and unfortunately, this wasn’t the case.
For Watson, who has already drawn 18 sacks through his first 6 games, Kansas City’s defense failed miserably, failing to once rush the 2018 leader in sacks drawn in Watson, marking the first time in his career where Watson has gone consecutive games without drawing a sack.
The end result of a shoddy defensive effort, and furthering the questions surrounding Mahomes’ ankle injury was a 31-24 loss, dropping their record to 4-2 in the process.
Now, the Chiefs only lost consecutive games once last season, when they dropped back-to-back games against the Chargers and Seahawks in weeks 15 and 16. In those respective games, the team lost by 1 and 7 respectively. The loses the Chiefs have fallen victim to have been by 6 and 7, an indicator that a compromised Mahomes is still keeping these games competitive.
Another team with noticeable defensive issues are the Atlanta Falcons, who lost another close game to Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals, 34-33.
The focus of this piece is narratives, and the narrative with the Falcons is that defense, or lack thereof.
After this most recent loss, which dropped their record to 1-5, Atlanta’s defense has allowed an average 388.8 yards per game, according to Fantasy Footballers, which ranks 26th in the league.
Another narrative surrounding the Falcons is the impending status of head coach/defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, whose poor play-calling on the defensive end has many in Atlanta asking for his head.
Should Atlanta lose their upcoming matchup against the Los Angeles Rams, a team that just bolstered their defense with acquisition of pro-bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey, I’d argue the decision regarding Quinn’s status in Atlanta is set-in-stone.
Our London matchup between the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers explored the narrative of the continued struggles of former number one overall pick Jameis Winston, whose performance overseas can best be described as disastrous.
Tampa Bay’s 37-24 loss, on the strength of Winston’s poor play and Kyle Allen’s continued improvements for Carolina, further cements what we already know about Winston and encourages fans in Cam-town.
His 5 interceptions marked the fourth time in his career the former Florida State quarterback had thrown at least four picks in the game, with four more occurrences of at least 3 interceptions happening in a career that could best be described as a total bust.
Through 60 career starts, Winston owns a 23-37 record, throwing for 100 touchdowns and 68 interceptions respectively, but these numbers are meaningless in the scheme of things, as Tampa Bay has managed just one winning season, 2016 when they went to 9-7, during Winston’s five-season tenure.
Teddy Bridgewater has a lot of credit to give to his defense after their recent victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars, putting up a baseball-like 13-6 score. Improving to 4-0 this season as a starter, and 7-1 in his last 8 road starts.
While franchise quarterback Drew Brees is expected to resume duties once he returns from IR, the narrative surrounding Bridgewater is that for someone whose career was at one point in jeopardy of ending early, his play in Brees’ absence has certainly been extended.
Could Winston’s struggles in Tampa Bay continue, Bridgewater could be an attractive option for them, as he is set to become an unrestricted free agent.
For what has been one of few darlings of the NFL thus far in 2019, the New England Patriots, who took on the now-Daniel Jones led New York Giants, improved to 6-0, despite the continued questions surrounding their run game and the development of second-year running back Sony Michel.
New England’s ground game, according to ESPN, is 21st in average rushing yards, with 101.5 per game.
In the 35-14 win, Michel carried 22 times for 86 yards, the second-highest mark of the season for him, trailing only the 93 yards he ran for over 16 carries in week 5 against the hapless-Washington Redskins.
Tom Brady’s 75.6% of completed passes marks a season-high, though he did draw 3 sacks by way of the New York defense. Over his last two games, Brady has been brought down 7 times, and 10 times total through 6 games.
Despite their issues with their run game, New England can improve to 7-0 as they go up against a 1-4 Jets team playing their second game with recently cleared QB Sam Darnold.
A write up of week six would be incomplete without mentioning the Monday Night game between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions, a meeting riddled with some of the worst play-calling we’ve seen in recent memory.
When league commissioner Roger Goodell, who is nearly universally reviled by many on and off the gridiron, comes out and acknowledges the lack of aptitude via the referees, with the phantom illegal hands highlighting a night the refs would love to forget.